SC Gives SEBI Time Till Mid-August to Investigate Hindenburg Claims on Adani Group

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, today, once again questioned SEBI's claim that it has not been investigating Adani group companies since 2016, and cited the Union government's reply to the parliament, which SEBI had called 'factually baseless.'

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today, May 17, allowed the Securities and Exchange Board of India till August 14, 2023, to complete its investigation into allegations of stock manipulation and fraud against the Adani Group.

The SEBI had originally been given two months on March 2. In late April, it sought an extension of the May 2 deadline so it gets six months to finish the investigation. Initially reticent about granting a lengthy extension, the Supreme Court has given SEBI over three extra months to complete the probe within.

According to LiveLaw, a bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala told the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta today, “We granted 2 months and now extended it till August which makes it 5 months. If you have any genuine difficulty, tell us then.”

The SG is representing SEBI.

The CJI-led bench asked SEBI to submit a status report on the investigation so far. SEBI is looking into claims first levelled by a report by US short seller Hindenburg Research.

The Supreme Court had asked both SEBI and an expert committee – headed by former SC judge Justice A.M, Sapre – it had appointed to probe the allegations. The committee has submitted its report. Today, the bench requested the expert committee to continue assisting the court and directed that the copies of the report submitted by it be shared with the parties of the case and their counsels, LiveLaw reported.

On May 15, in a hearing of this case, SEBI had told the Supreme Court that it has not probed any Adani Group company since 2016 and that a previous statement, alleging the same, was “factually baseless”. Opposition leaders said that this was a “cover up” and claimed that in 2021, the government had told the Lok Sabha that SEBI was investigating the Adani Group. The Ministry of Finance later said that it stands by its reply.

LiveLaw has reported that during today’s hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner seeking the probe into the Hindenburg report, once again questioned the SEBI’s claim that it has not been investigating Adani group companies since 2016, and cited the Union government’s reply to the parliament.

To this, SG Mehta claimed that the 2016 investigation by SEBI was on a different issue.

“In 2016, SEBI passed an order pertaining to 51 listed companies of India. No company of this group was a part of those 51 companies. My learned friend wants an enquiry on everything that happened to this company since 2016 or even 2008. That’s not the remit of this petition. This petition concerns the Hindenburg report,” the SG said.